Blue growth is one of the hot topics of marine research. It is a term used to describe sustainable ways to utilize natural marine resources. There are over 5 million people working on marine-related fields, and EU has estimated that the yearly monetary worth of marine sector is around 5 billion euros (EC 2012). According to Boston Consulting Group, in 2030 there will be 900 000 people working on marine related fields on the Baltic Sea area (Dahlgren et al., 2015).
It is natural that humanity has first taken advantage of the easily reachable resources on the ground, and as such the underwater resources have been relatively untouched. However, the depletion of natural resources on the surface has raised the interest on blue growth strategies. This has led to considerable advances in few past decades on technologies for, e.g. oil and gas production, allowing access to deeper areas and in the challenging arctic waters.
In addition to direct use of natural resources seas have always been used as means of transportation and as a food resource. Globalization has increased the amount of sea traffic of all seas. On the Baltic Sea, so far the Gulf of Finland has had the largest increase of traffic. The traffic is expected to grow in the future also on the Gulf of Bothnia (Pekkarinen & Repka 2014). With the climate warming, it becomes feasible to take advantage of the northern Arctic Ocean as a route connecting Europe and Asia.
Ensuring the well-being of fish populations and aquaculture is essential for a successful blue growth strategy. Natural fish resources have been diminishing due to excess fishing. This can be avoided in the future by developing fishing regulations based on marine spatial plans and accurate knowledge of resources.
The seas offer large, unused potential for resources, as the resources get scarce on land. These can be taken in use with advancing offshore technology and biotechnics.
The field of marine industry can be a vast source of innovative new technologies, as long as enough resources are invested in it. At the same time increased activity on our sea areas will require systematic planning on how to use our seas and shores. Blue growth is a long-term strategy which supports the growth of marine industry while ensuring the sustainability of nature.
- Dahlgren, S., Mrozowksi, T., Källström, N., Seppä, T., Lind, F., Wallin, M., Morin, M., 2015. Restoring waters in the Baltic Sea region. A strategy for municipalities and local governments to capture economic and environmental benefits. The Boston Consulting Group, Inc. 50 pp.
Pekkarinen, A, Repka, S. 2014. Maritime Transport in the Gulf of Bothnia 2030 . Ambio 43: 791-800.
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